Peeking into this area of the Butterfly Potager, you can see some delicate-looking fronds of asparagus sticking up behind daylilies, and a golden hops covering the trellis.
To see this garden at other times of the year, click here and scroll down.
What a beautiful week-end! With this heat wave, I will soon have many more spring bulbs blooming in the garden. But here's one of the things popping up already - tiny, electric blue siberian squill in a hot spot between the patio and house in my Butterfly Potager garden. I wish I was able to take pictures to do this little baby justice. If you wish you had some early spring bulbs blooming right now, consider adding some of this next fall. It comes back perennially and even multiplies. And the colour is fantastic!
Garden ornaments always seem to look better when they've got a little bit of foliage touching them. It's almost like Mother Nature says "Oh yeah, you think that thing looks nice? That's nothing! Let me show you what I can do!" Of course, Nature is probably much more polite than that. She doesn't need to be competitive, she just works her magic.
The Butterfly Potager is brimming over with flowers of raspberry monarda (bee balm), scarlet runner beans, grape daylilies, yellow and orange calendula, and yellow goldenrod and daylilies. Here's a look a little closer in:
To see this garden at other times of the year, click here and scroll down.
Welcome to my Potager garden! This garden is supposed to be about hot colours, edible plants, and flowers for butterflies and hummingbirds. How's that for a theme? Obviously, I find it pretty hard to limit myself! Also, I say "supposed to" because I'm pretty flexible on the "rules" in cases where I really like something but just don't know where else to put it, or for a few plants which were here before I decided on the theme. I'm just not ruthless enough to have a pure themed garden! Anyway, let's have a look inside...
Sadly, it's looking a litle sparse in a couple of places this year for three reasons: One, I mulched heavily last winter which is good for the soil and all, but this year I didn't find that any of my self-seeding red poppies nor my golden hyssop came back! Boo. Actually, there are a couple of poppies growing through the patio stones which I will let grow so that I can save seeds for next year. The second reason is that I planted asparagus this spring in those little diamond raised beds, which will take a couple of years to fill in. The third reason is that I didn't get around to planting scarlet runner beans on that bamboo trellis until very late this spring. I only ended up with two plants growing and they are still very small. I had the best of intentions this spring but the weather and a few trips out of town set me back quite a bit in terms of getting things done.
But enough excuses, here are some close-ups of what does look good right now:
Above (clockwise from top left): golden hops; window box full of annuals; calendula (annual from seed this spring) in front of lemon thyme; row of calendula in front of asparagus in raised beds with perennial Jacob's Ladder in the background; unknown variety of dianthus that someone gave me seeds for (first bloom, started from seed last year) in front of John Cabot rose; close-up rose; close-up of dianthus.
Above: lilacs are still blooming; asparagus (planted this spring) is getting ferny; Jacob's ladder and martagon lilies are starting to bloom in a shady corner; peony opening up; and calendula started from seed is beginning to bloom.
To see how this garden area has progressed over time, click here and scroll down.
Also, check back over the next few days as I post pictures of other areas of my garden as well!
Above: As you come around the south side of the house, you enter the Butterfly Potager garden. This year the honeysuckle growing on the arch seems to have died back to almost the ground and I need to cut it back.
To see what this garden looked like last year, click here.
To see pictures of other areas of my garden at this time of year, please see:
Above and below: There are some perennials popping up around the border but primarily I plant annuals from seed in the middle so there's not much to see yet. Scarlet runner beans will grow on the bamboo teepee this year. The little raised beds were planted with asparagus this spring and will be filled in as the asparagus grows (fingers crossed.)
The butterfly potager is one of my favourite gardens in my yard. It is enclosed on all 4 sides by fence, house and garage so it has a special, protected hideaway kind of feeling to it. I also try to stick to mostly hot colours in this area, which tend to "advance" and therefore make the space feel even more intimate. Plus the reds will hopefully attract humingbirds and many of the purples attract butterflies.
Since I grow more veggies and annuals here than in other areas of the garden (this year the boxes were planted with spinach and chard) and thus this garden fills in later in the season, I've gradually added a few elements to add interest even before the plants get big, such as the bench, trellises and garden art. Here's a look at it in 2010, including what is blooming when:
Above: by early June, there are still just little seedlings in the veggie growing area, although the crabapples (planted last year) are in bloom and so are some daffodils in another area of this garden. This spring I will be planting asparagus in the two little raised beds.
Above: ornamentals such as peonies, delphiniums, honeysuckle, roses, dianthus, violas and calendula are also in bloom. The poppies self-seed everywhere but are easy to recognize in spring and it's easy to pull up the extras you don't want.
Besides planting asparagus in the raised boxes and probably adding a scarlet runner bean teepee where the dill was last year, I don't plan to make too many changes to this garden this season. I'm just looking forward to watching it mature.
To see what this garden looked like last year, click here.
To see other areas of my garden, check out:
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Sigh. This is probably the last collection of photos I will be posting for the season! Ah, but now I won't be gardening so much so I'll actually have time to write about stuff again, rather than just posting photos all the time! Anyway, here's the clematis, hyssop, rose 'John Cabot' and sedum 'Autumn Joy' all still blooming in the butterfly potager (above.)
More photos clockwise from top left: goldenrod and raspberry monarda; golden hops, hyssop, purple liatris and raspberry monarda; siberian iris foliage looks good even when not in bloom; swiss chard has been harvested; sedum 'Autumn Joy' in bloom; liatris, hyssop and monarda again.
It's sad to think that the garden is only going to look like this for just a few more days... snow forecast on the week-end! Ugh!
Perennials blooming right now: monarda (bee balm), eupatorium (Joe Pye weed), hydrangea 'Annabelle', agastache foeniculum (golden hyssop), purple hemerocallis (daylily), purple clematis, rose 'John Cabot', ornamental grasses, and a new goldenrod that I got from the Plant Share last week-end.
Annuals blooming right now: calendula, dill, poppies, zinnias, nasturtiums, allysum.
Other: swiss chard - why have I not grown this vegetable before this year? I have been harvesting it all summer and it's still looking and tasting great! I will be freezing the rest for winter cooking soon.
To see this garden at other times of the year, check out:
Above: nasturtiums in the window box and purple clematis on the right; that's a new little red lobelia near the bottom of the rain barrel.
Above: This is inside the gate now looking back towards it: purple clematis with a John Cabot rose still blooming; sedum 'Autumn Joy' getting ready to turn colour (ack! that means it's fall!) and golden hyssop.
Above: A mishmash of dill, red annual poppies, zinnias, calendula, swiss chard, raspberry beebalm, golden hyssop and purple daylily... oh, and some pink yarrow which I must move out of there - I don't know where it came from and it's clashing with everything!
And some close-ups for you as well, clockwise from top left: raspberry monarda (beebalm) with golden agastache foeniculum (hyssop); unknown clematis with calamagrostis (feather reed grass) 'Karl Foerster' and white snapdragon; more hyssop in front of the purple clematis; zinnias; clematis.
To see this garden at other times of the year, check out:
This garden features either edible plants or ones that attract hummingbirds and/or butterflies (but I thought the name "hummingbird butterfly potager" was too long). On the annual side the red poppies, orange and yellow calendula, dill and nasturtiums are blooming away, although the poppies are petering out. There are also red lilies, raspberry monarda (bee balm), a yellow-leaved agastache foeniculum (hyssop), purple daylily, and purple and magenta clematises (clemati?) in bloom right now. We can barely keep up with the 'Bright Lights' swiss chard so I'll be freezing some soon.
I'm happy to report the two columnar crabapples I planted last spring are now taller than the fence and seem happy and healthy. They must be OK with the amount of sun they get even though they're on the north side of the fence.
Here's the butterfly potager at other times of the year:
Welcome to my butterfly potager garden! I entered it in this year's Hort Society garden competition in the "Outdoor Living" category. I didn't win anything and I didn't expect to - it needs a few years to mature and I need more time to take care of it. But here's what it looks like in late July and here's what the judges said about it:
Overall Effect and Appearance
To see pictures of this garden area at other times of the year, check out
Finally, some nice pictures to show you again! I have been posting a series of reflections (starting here) on each area of my garden this year. The last few posts have been brutally honest, and rather unflattering. They are certainly not photos to show you how perfect my garden is - but rather, wide, uncropped, unedited photos to help me analyze what I want to change and improve next year and to show my garden as a work-in-progress. But I'm proud to say that the butterfly potager did well this year and other than a few minor changes, the plants can settle in and make themselves at home.
This area used to hold a tool shed and a weird, extra fence which we ripped out in 2007. I had initially thought of putting in a "white garden" a la Sissinghurst, but I just can't restrain myself to such a limited palette. And I love colour too much. I wanted to put some veggies in the sunnier spots, plus I liked the idea of planting lots of flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Since the butterfly/hummingbird/potager garden was a little too long a name, I settled on...
The Butterfly Potager (year 2)
Mid-May. This area can be seen from the master bedroom window and looked boringly barren in winter, so the first thing I did this spring was start to add structure by planting two columnar crabapple trees. They're on the north side of the fence but I'm hoping once they get tall enough to get lots of sun over the top of the fence, they will thrive here.
Mid-June. Due to the shade of the fence things are a little slow to take off here. Plus I added these stepping stones to the garden this spring to provide easier access to the veggies and bench. This bench was just temporary while I was finalizing the design.
Late June. The new bench in place. Allium 'Purple Sensation', some iceland poppies and siberian iris in bloom. Direct-sown seedlings of peas, carrots, beets and beans grow left to right on the trellises and in the raised beds.
Early July. Top photo: Rosa 'John Cabot' and hesperalis matronalis in bloom here. I'm going to add some of the chartreuse-leaved agastache foeniculum here next year for even more colour. And um, a toy on the patio... Middle photo: View from the back porch. Bottom photo: A nice mix of foliage with a young martagon lily in bloom.
Mid-August. Roses, clematis, lilies, 'Annabelle' hydrangea (new this year), scarlet runner beans and daylily in bloom. I've added a trellis to the garage wall that I plan to grow golden hops on next year - it should look great on the blue background!
Early September. Peas and beans are finished so the teepees have come down. Purple clematis, red poppies, self-seeded verbena bonariensis, red bee balm, yellow hollyhocks, purple agastache foeniculum and hosta in bloom. I moved the hosta right after this picture was taken - it looked great here but it was getting a bit crowded and I had a spot in the new back shade garden that needed it more.
Other parts of the garden:
Way back in winter I decided to redo the "butterfly potager garden". Basically, I wanted to have something more interesting to look at than that barricade-of-a-fence that my neighbours put up.
So, I planted the trees, and I want to get a concrete bench and some kind of year-round ornament to put on the fence above it. That meant I had to move all the plants around because I needed to put in some stepping stones to get to the bench... these projects never turn out to be small!
Anyway, I'm finally done. I've put in the stepping stones, planted various kinds of low-growing thymes around them, and moved around the perennials that used to be there (delphiniums, lilies and bee balm). There are peas and beans planted to grow up the two teepees, and carrots and beets in the two little raised beds.
So come on summer, I'm ready for ya!
This Dreamweaver columnar crabapple tree is blooming a little early since I just picked it up from the garden centre, but aren't the flowers pretty? And they smell nice too! The foliage will turn a deep burgandy for the summer, and it will even produce edible fruit.
This is a great tree for small spaces. The tree will eventually get up to 1 m wide and 3 m tall.
There weren't any crabapple trees when I moved into this house and my old house had 4 large ones. I am thrilled to have crabapple flowers in my garden again!!
Here is the fence on the south side of our back yard. My neighbours had it built a couple of years ago (and told us the day before they were having it done and that we owed half, but that’s another story). Anyway, I hate it. It looks like a barricade. It can be viewed from the sunroom, the back porch, and the master bedroom, so it would be nice to have something nice to look at out there, even in the 6 months of the year that nothing is growing. This area is also next to the patio with the dining area and BBQ, so it’s got to look even better in the summer. Yet, I have enough shady areas in my garden already; I don’t really want to plant more shade-tolerant shrubs and perennials up against the fence. I want an interesting year-round focal point. Here is my solution:
This year I’m going to put in 2 columnar ‘Gladiator’ crabapples. They don’t take up much space and they’ll be tall enough to get sunlight over the fence most of the day, without casting too much extra shade. The spring flowers are gorgeous and the burgundy foliage looks great too and eventually they’ll be tall enough to block the view of the neighbours’ back window and garage. In between them will be a nice bench to sit in the shade and overlook the butterfly potager garden, with some kind of a decorative trellis-y thing above it. I think it’s going to look great!
After reading lots of articles about how growing veggies will get kids more interested in eating them, I can finally report that yes, it's true! This lettuce is growing right beside the patio and my kids like to walk over and yank off leaves to munch on while they're playing in the backyard. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!!
After blogging about how borage flowers are edible, I decided to give them a try. I wouldn't say they taste like cucumber, but they do have a pleasant, very mild flavour. I still think they're nicer in the garden, though.
Here's my first attempt at a bean teepee. I realized when I made it that in order to make the base wide enough for 2 kids to fit under, the tee pee was going to be too short. Next year I'll invest in some bamboo stakes at least 8 ft long.
Anyway, scarlet runner bean is a fast-growing vine, but it still takes until the end of august for it to fully cover the teepee. Maybe I should have planted more densely? I'll give it another shot next year before I decide if the whole effort is worthwhile...
The flowers are finishing now and the beans are starting.
Way back in the winter, when I had too much time and energy, I had the idea to make this pathway.� It incorporates some rocks and shells I've collected from various trips, glass left over from other craft projects, and of course, hand and foot prints of all our family members.� I briefly considered trying to get the dog to make a paw print, but then decided it wasn't worth the effort on my part and the stress on his part.� The kids love the path and they also loved helping make it (I think the key is to not ask them to help, then they jump in!!)
I'm not totally sure how long some of these stones will last.� I have a fear that water will get under some of the glass and rocks and eventually crack the concrete.� But for at least�a few years it will be neat for the kids to check how much bigger their hands and feet are getting.� And I did put a 3" base of compacted gravel underneath and surround the stones with sand, so I hope that will help with drainage and make the stones last longer.
I am going to let this settle for a while, then add some soil and creeping woolly thyme in some pockets and around the edge next spring.�
This completes the gardening projects I wanted to get done this summer, and it's only August!� Except a month or so ago I decided we needed to make a little more space for veggies for next year, so I'll be digging up a little grass this fall...� Anyway, time for a break to just enjoy the garden.
I can handle zone 3, I can handle the chinooks, I can handle the cold nights and the short growing season and even the freak snowstorms in June and September, all things which make gardening in Calgary notorious. But the hail in July and August, when the garden is at its peak, is just, well, painful.
Fortunately, I don't seem to be in much of a hail belt and sustained very little damage. I don't think the tomatoes were impressed, though.
It is probably going to look like this for another month or two before we get around to finishing it! That's the way things go these days...
The big kids had a sleepover at my parents' the other night, so I set hubby to work setting up the rain barrels. Yes, the rains of June are over and we may not get more for a month, but better late than never!
It was a big pain because our old house has eavestroughs in a size and shape that is no longer available (we have this problem any time we try to do anything around the house - nothing is standard any more). So those nice downspout diverter kits you can get won't work here.
Our solution was a flexible downspout extender from Lee Valley. When the rain barrel is full, we simply unhook the flexi-pipe from the barrel and stick it into a drain pipe hidden behind, which extends out away from the house. Yes, we have to do it manually but it's probably only for one month a year (June, when we get the most rain).
Extra note: I purposely designed this fence so you can't see the ugly rainbarrel from inside the backyard!
This year is my first attempt at a bean teepee. The beautiful bamboo trellis on the right is for peas, and the very rustic, lopsided one on the left is my obviously home-made version for the scarlet runner beans.
I saved 5 straight-ish branches from pruning the lilacs last year. There is cedar mulch around the inside so the "floor" doesn't get muddy, and I am wrapping string around the outside to give the beans plenty of things to hold on to as they grow (click on the picture for a bigger version and you just might be able to make out the string), leaving a space at the front for a "door". I planted 5-6 beans around the bottom of each pole.
Scarlet runner beans are very vigorous and fast-growing. The red flowers are also quite pretty and supposedly attract hummingbirds. That fits in with my veggie patch / hummingbird & butterfly garden theme (hey, I don't have a lotta space so I had to combine themes!!). I'm not sure how sturdy my construction is so we'll see how things go this year...
You can also see my trampled raised beds in front. Seedlings seem to be doing fine!
This is new for me this year, but since I am planting a hummingbird/butterfly garden, I'd better have a hummingbird feeder too! According to my Mom, the bird expert, it's time to put the feeders out now as the hummingbirds will be migrating through Calgary soon. Apparently once they find one, they'll return to the same spot year after year.
Feeders can be filled with a 4:1 water:sugar solution (eg. 2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar). Keep them clean and full.
PS (as of May 16, my Mom has had 1 hummer at her feeder!)
For more helpful tips, click on "comments" below for information from Zoe Anne Hinds at http://www.hummingbirdsformom.com.
Here are my new raised beds waiting to be put in the ground (and have ground put in them). With lots of mature trees, I don't have many places in the yard that get enough sun for veggies, so I am squeezing these little babies in a small sunny spot. I like the raised beds especially beside the patio, because it will be easier to prevent kids (and dog) from stepping on the veggies. Raised beds also have some other advantages:
I am placing mine in a diamond pattern because I think they look more interesting. Flowers will go in the triangle between them to make my veggies "prettier". Can you say "potager"?
They're made of 1x6's and 2x4's, of untreated cedar.